Thinking Styles – 5 Different Styles of Thinking Explained

A thinking style is a characteristic way of processing information. It involves how one acquires knowledge, organizes thoughts, forms views and opinions, applies personal values, solves problems, makes decisions, plans, and expresses oneself to others.

Thinkers are classified into the following five Thinking styles

  1. Synthesists
  2. Realists
  3. Pragmatists
  4. Analysts
  5. Idealists

1. Synthesists

They are creative thinkers who look at the world in terms of opposites.

1. Appearance

  • Challenging, sceptical, and aggressive
  • Unconnected to the present subject

2. Like

  • To control processes and do things grandly
  • Intellectual arguments

3. Dislike

  • Fact-based discussions

4. Problem- solving Strategy

  • Face problems directly
  • Question assumptions

5. Strengths

  • Help prevent bad ideas
  • Generate new ideas

6. Weaknesses

  • Quit when not paid heed to
  • Disregard for details

2. Realists

They are fast-moving, action-oriented, corrective, result-oriented, and problem-solving people.

 1. Appearance

  • Frank, forceful, and positive
  • Quick to form and express opinions

 2. Like

  • Forming ground-level strategies
  • Handling multiple projects simultaneously

 3. Dislike

  • Speculative and abstract talk
  • Colouring of facts with opinions

 4. Problem-solving strategy

  • They solve problems by setting objectives, fixing and correcting them
  • Their work is rooted in observation and experiences.

 5. Strengths

  • Deliver concrete results
  • Adept at identifying resources for problems

 6. Weaknesses

  • Hard to change their minds
  • Simplify the problem to the extent that an inaccurate impression may be formed

 3. Pragmatists

They are flexible thinkers who seek shortcuts and quick pay-offs

 1. Appearance

  • Energetic and intelligent
  • Open, humorous and friendly

 2. Like

  • To generate plans, tactics, and ideas
  • Toying with ideas practically and realistically

 3. Dislike

  • Dry, dull, humourless, speculative, and abstract talk
  • They do not like facts and values having equal values

 4. Problem-solving strategy

  • Experiment to find novel solutions
  • Seek quick pay-offs

 5. Strengths

  • Good diplomats
  • Can tolerate ambiguity

 6. Weaknesses

  • Agree quickly with other’s ideas
  • Find it hard to deal with idealists

 4. Analyst Thinkers

They think methodically and believe that working scientifically is the way to find the best solution.

 1. Appearance

  • Cool and studious
  • Hard to read, perfectionists, thorough, disciplined, and cautious

2. Like

  • Stability
  • Logical evaluation of issues and thoroughness

3. Dislike

  • Talk lacking logic
  • Talk that is too speculative and experimental

4. Problem-solving strategy

  • Analyse alternatives systematically
  • Search for additional data and handle one thing at a time

5. Strengths

  • Look at a problem to gauge various viewpoints
  • Effective in scenarios requiring logical and analytical calculation

6. Weaknesses

  • Too time intensive
  • Lack feedback

5. Idealists

Future-and goal-oriented persons

1. Appearance

Display support and openness

Receptive and interested in others’ ideas

2. Like

Feeling-level discussions about people and their problems

Dehumanizing talk

3. Dislike

Conflicting and open arguments

Facts and values having equal values

4. Problem-solving strategy

Look at a scenario holistically

Are receptive listeners

5. Strengths

Excellent at information gathering

Good promoters of group participation

6. Weaknesses

Avoid setting goals and standards

Are overwhelmed by emotions at times.

Lateral Thinking

  •  As popularised by Edward de Bono, lateral thinkers generate novel solutions to problems.
  •  Lateral thinking assumes that many problems can be solved by adopting a different viewpoint.
  •  Main principle: Breaking up elements and recombining them in different ways.
  •  Edward de Bono identified four main factors associated with lateral thinking:

Recognising the most powerful ideas that divide the various viewpoints of a problem

Seeking different ways of looking at things

Relaxing rigid control overthinking

Using chance to encourage other ideas

Lateral Thinking: Example WNS

WNS promotes lateral thinking to keep innovation at the forefront of its business strategy. The company has an ideas division called Wincubate, where employees are encouraged to ideate.

The team with the most promising idea is awarded $250,000 (excluding people costs) for implementing the idea. After 18 months, the company decides whether to create a new division to develop said idea as a business proposition, in which case the idea creators are awarded a 26% stake in the new company.